Black Browed Albatross Spotted
Recently a rare visitor was spotted near Penzance in Cornwall, the . This large sea bird, growing up to 2.5 metres in wingspan can live for 70 years and older and has been known to travel large distances following trade winds and food.
These birds feed on a variety of fish, crustaceans and carrion and have been seen bullying other smaller birds away from captured food.
Native of the Southern Oceans
The Black Browed Albatross is native to the southern Oceans around Antarctica, with large breeding colonies being present around the Falkland Islands, Chile and South Georgia Islands. Changes in habitat, plus global warming are thought to be affecting breeding colonies as this species is now in decline, with breeding pairs thought to be decreasing by roughly 0.7% per year, with a 65% drop in breeding pairs since the 1960's
To see one of these birds in the UK, far away from their natural habitat is startling and can only be a consequence of either being blown off course or following food. There are reports of isolated cases of this species being seen in Scotland in the 1970's, however no reported sightings of Black Browed Albatrosses have been submitted for many years.
Of course it may be that because of the long lifespan of these birds, we may be seeing the result of a small scale colonisation of the UK shoreline by the birds seen in the 1970's, but it's more likely that this is an isolated incident.
The Black Browed Albatross has now been officially classified as an endangered species by the UICN, with conservation efforts underway to protect habitat of these birds. Protected breeding colonies and no fish zones are being discussed to allow the population to recover to their former glory.